/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: Doggy Paddling Diane

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Doggy Paddling Diane

(This is a continuation of the tale of Dave and Diane, who were introduced in The Basket of Denial: A Short Story.)

Doggy paddling is instinctual, yet inefficient. It requires too much energy to do for long and it doesn't get you far; it merely keeps you afloat. And only for a little while until your muscles tire and cramp and eventually refuse to work. Assuming rescue is not imminent, one must adapt their skills beyond the primitive in order to endure.

Before she actually made the break from Dave (the physical one anyway -- as she had emotionally broken away long before) many thoughts ruminated in Diane's head. She knew in all likelihood she was a hopeless romantic--or was she just hopeless? she wondered. She felt that over time she had learned to keep her expectations of love to be more practical, although she couldn't help subconsciously but to imagine how it could be. There were certain things she intrinsically longed for, certain things that spoke love to her and she couldn't help but feel that she was settling -- there just had to be more to relationships than simply muddling through life together. Sure, that was a big part of it; but in order to feed and nurture the relationship, to keep it from souring, there had to be something sweet added and it only made sense that each partner contribute some of the "sugar." As it turned out, the less sugar Dave added to the relationship, the more bitter Diane grew. And for anyone who knows a lick about psychology, bitter people generally have little sugar to give.

Interestingly, just preceding their most serious marital troubles, Diane felt she was making great strides in her own emotional health. She realized that most of the negative behaviors she had engaged in when younger had dissolved and she was learning to better cope with resentment. Another benefit she encountered as a result of the maturation process was learning to better defend herself from others in a constructive manner, along with developing the ability to do so with less justification and more resolution. However, amidst these advancements challenges also arose. As she became more insightful, the dysfunctional patterns in her relationships became much clearer and, being a person who strives for personal growth, naturally Diane could no longer thrive with them in place. Now, this should have been a good thing -- it was an opportunity to interrupt the cycles and rebuild troubled relationships into healthier ones. Yet unfortunately, some people cling desperately to the adage that ignorance is bliss -- and, as we know from The Basket of Denial, ignorance is not only Dave's condition of choice, it appears to be his adopted religion.

After the initial setbacks and getting nowhere but frustrated, Diane attempted to focus less on her and Dave and more simply on her. The conditions, however, were just too poor: still lacking in sugar and drowning in a sour sea, it was nearly impossible for her to make any emotional gains and, in fact, if anything, she saw herself slipping. She was overwhelmed by frustration and resentment with too few ways to vent or express it. Anchored by Dave and being pulled under by the current of familiar patterns, she regressed to having outbursts of anger and spells of hopelessness. Just the way, she assumed, Dave wanted it to be. For then he could play the part of hero and caretaker -- all the while dismissing his responsibility in the matter -- by picking up the pieces and wordlessly expressing, "see? You need me." Ironically, however, was that seemingly it was the reverse that were true. For how will he continue his delusions when Diane is finally gone? He will have no choice but to further develop his spirituality (the blissfulness of ignorance) lest he succumb to the harshness of the cold and unaccommodating foreign land of Reality -- a place he has heard of, but never ventured to. A place you do not reach easily relying on doggy paddle alone.

But what ultimately happens to Dave is neither here nor there; this chapter is dedicated to Diane and her struggle to grow emotionally. Upon realizing that she had fallen right back to where she began (not in her ultimate goal, rather her emotional health) she began losing all hope that she could become a better person after all. Who was she kidding? She would only be fooling herself if she thought she was capable of nurturing a strong and healthy partnership with anyone. Considering, here she was, these many years later and she was functioning with an unrefined and inefficient method of frantic and desperate movements. She had so desperately wanted to try the breast stroke or the butterfly but, alas, she was not swimming alone and her teammate was not interested in learning anything new -- even at the expense of their own survival. She spent several weeks lamenting the fates of her emotional vitality and romantic future when a spark went off in Diane's head and ignited an epiphany that maybe -- just maybe -- once she was cut lose from the anchor and she rose above the sour sea to catch her breath, her metamorphosis would continue. "After all, it is a biological fact," she thought, "that not a single thing grows in the absence of air."


Lori said...

"still lacking in sugar and drowning in a sour sea"

I love that line! It really evokes the contrast between what exists and what is desired, and makes you feel the panic and loss of hope that would result from such a scenario... metaphorically.

But I really need to know; Has Diane cut Dave loose yet? Will she?

The Blogger Exposed said...

I'm glad there was a line in there that resonated with someone, as I obviously had no direction with this post -- I just sat down and began spilling!

Only an unlikely miracle would prevent Diane from cutting him lose. It's obvious he's not willing or capable of doing what needs to be done. She's currently getting all her ducks in a row...

Lori said...

Diane is brilliant (and articulate, and beautiful), and she's invested all she can in the relationship, when there is clearly no hope for a true return on all she's put into it. Sad, but life is all about change and growth. She can't flourish in Dave's stifling environment. It may be difficult at first, but she (and any kidlets) will be the stronger for it in the long run. If she ever wants to rant or vent, she knows where to find me.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Thank you, Lori. I will pass that on to her. We're pretty tight, Diane and I.

Ferd said...

I liked/loved the metaphorical "epiphany," being cut loose from the anchor that pulls her down, in order to rise to the surface for a breath of life giving air.

Diane is all about growth and change. She'll make a FINE partner for someone someday! I'm rooting for her!

The Blogger Exposed said...

Thanks, Ferd. She needs all the rooting she can get.